Kink-Aware and Poly Friendly Psychotherapy
Why do I offer kink-aware and poly friendly psychotherapy and counseling services for BDSM and altsex folks?
Because I recognize that sexual diversity is more than just LGBTQ. Because I believe all people deserve to meet with a clinician who understands their identity issues and sexual practices without unnecessarily making that a focus of treatment. Because even though I practice in San Francisco, many local clinicians are still not well-educated when it comes to BDSM, kink, and polyamory. I specialize in working with altsex populations and sexual diversity.
How many LGBTQ, kink, altsex, BDSM, or poly-identified clients have I worked with?
This is a question I’m often asked by new clients. The following chart shows the sexual orientations that people who come to my office have written on my intake form (in their own words). Note that the categories overlap (e.g. – some may write both queer and poly on the intake form when asked about how they identify). Notably, about 60% of my clients identify as something other than heterosexual, 30% of my clients are poly, and about 20% report being kink-identified. Some clients do not put “kink” in the intake form, but later share more about BDSM practices. This snapshot of my practice stats is from January, 2013.
Click on the chart below to enlarge it.
As a kink-aware and poly friendly clinician:
- I won’t assume that the issue you’re seeking help with is caused by or is related to your kink or poly orientation.
- I won’t make assumptions about your treatment goals – particularly that these goals include changing your sexual desires.
- I won’t try to “cure” you of BDSM or poly desires.
- I will be aware that any distress you have about your kink or poly identity may be a normal part of internalized cultural bias against your sexual orientation rather than evidence of a disorder. I will help you to locate and get support from community resources.
- I will be sensitive to whether and how your kink or poly identity affects your work, social, and family relationships.
- I will not assume abuse when you are in a BDSM relationship. I will not assume you are cheating or are tolerating cheating if you bring up other partners.
- I will not assume that BDSM interests mean that you are not also interested in vanilla sexual behaviors.
- If you have experienced abuse within a BDSM relationship, I can help you to process and understand that. I know that this can sometimes happen and that it can be very difficult to talk about.
- I can help you to navigate the terms of your poly relationship and negotiate agreements that best serve you and your partners, identifying and honoring your needs.
- I will remain aware of my own issues and how they may enter the therapy. I will consult with colleagues who are knowledgeable about altsex behavior if you bring in issues that are outside of my knowledge base or boundaries of competence.
My commitment to providing services to kinky, BDSM, poly, and altsex clients began when I was in graduate school and I wrote my dissertation on assessing bias in mental health services to BDSM clients. I am also involved in the CE Programming for CARAS: Community Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities.
In order to better serve altsex communities and help clients find accepting and knowledgable clinicians, I founded and serve as President of Open Minds: Psychotherapists Affirming Sexual and Gender Diversity. This San Francisco, Bay Area based group helps clinicians and trainees who work with sexual and gender diversity to network, consult, and support one another. We also have a directory to help Bay Area clients find psychotherapists.
To read more of my work with BDSM, kink, poly, and altsex communities, you can find the following publications:
Kolmes, K. (2012). 50 Shades of Sitgma: Are we as kinky as we think we are? Blog post for Psyched in SF.
Kolmes K., & Witherspoon, R. G. (2012). Sexual Orientation Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Expanding our Conversations about Sexual Diversity. Independent Practitioner, Summer 2012.
Kolmes, K., Stock, W., Moser, C. (2006). Investigating bias in psychotherapy with BDSM clients. Journal of Homosexuality, 50 (3/4).
Kolmes, K (2003). BDSM consumers of mental health services: the need for culturally sensitive care. Doctoral dissertation, CSPP-AIU. Reprinted and catalogued by CSPP-AIU library.
Clinician’s Corner: Your Editor Interviews Keely Kolmes, Psy.D. about “Kink”, Polyamorous Relationships and the “Bay Area Open Minds” Organization. San Francisco Psychological Association’s Summer Newsletter.
The Good Vibrations Online Magazine also interviewed me about Bay Area Open Minds, the group I founded for mental health professionals.
On Friday, August 3, 2012, I gave a talk entitled Stigma Squared: Understanding Kink in LGBT Communities as part of a Symposium entitled The Revolution Within: Sexpositivity and Celebrating Sex Within LGBT Communities with Theodore R. Burnes, Ph.D., MEd, Ryan Witherspoon, B.A., Anneliese A. Singh, Ph.D.
Here are my slides from that presentation:
You can listen to my presentation soon.